With Labour in disarray, largely because it is has no relevance to the modern voter, and, as yet, no other strong challenger on the horizon, there are two main dangers for National. The first is if its handling of the economy is called into question and the second risk lies in its own voters becoming disaffected.
There are warning signs that the global economy isn’t in good shape. Global debt levels are astronomic and silly money is being printed with nothing to back it up. Europe is a cot case and China is catching a cold. New Zealand has become heavily dependent on a single industry, the dairy industry. If the international economic news gets worse, dairying will be the first to suffer and National is at risk of taking the blame if the domestic economy heads south.
In the meantime National is starting to upset its own voters in ways that should be sending warning signs to Head Office. Once National becomes associated with ideas that undermine the implicit social contract it has with its voters, then it is in danger of losing them to other parties.
National is guilty of undermining private property rights, the fundamental rights that underpin parliamentary democracy. I doubt if many National MPs understand the damage they are doing but this not lost a large number of their voters who are becoming more than restless at where this is leading the country.
Property rights are undermined by the appeasement of tribal interests. Either we have tribalism or we have democracy we can’t have both. Failure to bring the hated Treaty of Waitangi process to an end and instead furthering institutionalising racism is leading National down a dangerous path.
Further undermining of property rights can be seen in the racial pressure applied by Labour, NZ First, and tribal interests to block the sale of Lochinver station to Chinese interests. Governments should not be picking and choosing who can buy and sell private property, except where they themselves are the owners of the property. You can bet your bottom dollar that had the sale been to a Canadian it would have gone through.
Appeasement seems to be the only policy driving National during this third term. The thought process seems to be that taking the wind out of the opposition’s sales will keep them being loved by the population at large. It will not. It upsets their own voters, who take it as weakness and lack of principle, and doesn’t for one minute add an opposition voter to their ranks. It’s a lose/lose policy that will eventually backfire.
The whole futile flag debate is yet another silly initiative, born of appeasement of Labour. It is seen as a display of hubris on the part of the PM, has been handled badly, and is divisive. I warned of the dangers a year ago in a blog Lowering the Flag and so it is turning out. Had there been groundswell of opinion against our national flag then that would be the signal for a debate on the issue, but this is a top down initiative and will reflect badly on the head that thought it up.
So far there has been no strong opposition to worry National but that can soon change if events conspire to shift the ground from under the PM. Disaffected voters might well seek a new home if they think that National has lost its way and become an unprincipled party of appeasement out of sync with its natural voters.